ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Minister of Finance Harold Lovell yesterday said government is not in a position to pay the US $23 million it offered to pay Half Moon Bay Holdings as compensation after compulsorily acquiring the property several years ago.
However, the minister expressed hope the situation would soon change.
“We are working to get ourselves in the position to make payments but in the meantime, the matter is still being dealt with legally.”
Acknowledging the recent decision of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal in which HMB was awarded US $45.5 million, Lovell said, “I expect an appeal would be filed and I am not going to prejudice any matter before the court. The crux of the matter before the court is the financial aspect so I’ll be guided by the attorney general before speaking any further.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Justin Simon QC said he could not comment on the HMB matter, even as its managing director Natalia Querard accused government of breaching the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) treaties. The breach of a Treaty cancels the agreement under the United Stated-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA).
Querard is apparently in support of the resolution put to the US Senate to suspend all aid to Antigua & Barbuda until local government fulfills certain obligations.
The businesswoman said, “By expropriating the Half Moon Bay Resort from its American owners, the Government of Antigua has breached the CBI and CBERA treaties. The breach of a Treaty cancels the agreement.”
The aforementioned treaties agreed to between Antigua and the US stipulate that no country should be a beneficiary of aid from the US if it expropriates or otherwise seizes ownership or control of property owned by a US citizen or a corporation partnership or association which was owned 50 per cent or more by US citizens.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)